Is It the Marriage or the Bipolar Diagnosis?

Last Updated: 19 Mar 2019

In times of stability, it can be difficult—and painful—to determine if there are real problems with your relationship or if bipolar symptoms are the culprit; find out more:

Interpreting the symptoms

Even after years of stability, a stressful event or a build-up of stress can cause an onset of symptoms. These may be too subtle for the spouse without bipolar to recognize. Hurt and bewildered, support partners can find it difficult to decipher this distressing behavior. Is it an expression of the diagnosis, or is there a valid relationship problem that should be addressed?

Words that harm

Stories abound of partners who are married to the most “wonderful, caring and compassionate” spouses in the world. Then out of nowhere, that amazing spouse lashes out with hateful words and requests to end the marriage.

Said one caregiver: “How long will my husband tell me he doesn’t love me? How long will he use abusive language when speaking to me? How long before he loves me again?”

Said another: “I don’t think our partners know how hard it is to hear that the person who we love the most and dedicate all our efforts into, doesn’t want to be with us!”

In denial

In many relationships where bipolar is present, anosognosia can be a factor at some point—most notably after an extended period of stability. Anosognosia describes an “impaired awareness” of one’s own diagnosis. When bipolar symptoms do emerge, the person may deny anything is amiss with themselves. Rather, they will attribute any ill will to their partner, or to the marriage having problems—not to any manic or depressive symptoms. This can cause extreme hurt and confusion for the other spouse, who believed everything was wonderful in the marriage.

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